19 January 2016
Rachel Maddow the other night had a good piece on the various versions of Reagan that the Republicans have chosen to remember and on how few of these have any link to the Reagan of history. Completely swept under the rug in the Republic psyche is the entire Iran-Contra scandal. By all accounts, Reagan was a lousy president. Even with scoundrels like Nixon, we can warmly remember his bold detente with China and aspects of his environmental policy. With Reagan, on the other hand, about all we can say is that he only shares some of the blame since he clearly had no idea what was going on half the time. This is Reagan's own words from p. 458 of Reagan: A Life in Letters:
During the course of our secret discussions, I authorized the transfer of small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts for defensive systems in Iran. My purpose was to convince Tehran that our negotiators were acting on my authority, to send a signal that the United States was prepared to replace animosity with a new relationship...[I]t is in our national interest to watch for changes within Iran that might offer hope for an improved relationship... Our interests are clearly served by opening a dialogue with Iran...
And all of this willingness to talk and make peace just years after Iran held U.S. hostages. Reagan comes across as such a softy in contrast to our current cast of Republican manly men who will (we are told) magically bend the wills of the evil untermenschen throughout the globe who dare to oppose God-given American authority.